Day 22 - Perfect Packaging

Branding22 Welcome to Day #22 of the 31 Days to Better Branding series! To learn more about this series, click here and find links to the other days so you'll be able to follow along or catch up if you happen to miss anything. I am by no means an expert but after hearing a lot of the same questions, I figured others could benefit from a few lessons in branding. Hopefully it will give you a place to begin or even just a few tips to improve your business and bring you more clients. Feel free to add in your thoughts and what has worked for you in the comments!


Huzzah! We have made it through identity, appearance, online presence, and now we are moving on to marketing! I had a hard time writing this section because marketing for your brand is so specific and personal. I wish I could just sit down across the table from you and talk out your goals, budget, and needs. I can give you some basic principles but it will take creative thinking on your part to make those principles work for your business.

Today we'll start with your printed marketing materials which I'm just going to sum up with the term "packaging." I narrowed this subject down to 6 main questions that are pretty common and hopefully it can help you make some decisions about your brand... "What basic printed materials do I need?" Every business could use a nicely designed business card, letterhead, thank you, and signs. Beyond that will be specific to your field. For example... Photographers: CD/DVD label & case, holders for prints such as image boxes or envelopes, bags to deliver them in etc. Restaurant/Bakeries/Coffee Shops: Printed menu, food/drink labels, place mats, drink covers, to-go bags, etc. Boutique Clothing/Crafts shop: Product tags, labels and bags, seasonal catalog, etc.

Maybe after the basics are covered, add in something fun to add to the experience. I get excited about a purchase when the packaging feels like I'm receiving a gift.

"Is it really going to make me more money in the long run?" YES. Definitely. Anything that adds to the client's experience or will give them something to gush about to someone else is worth investing in. You want them to feel like they "belong to the club" of your business and become an avid supporter. If they feel like you went the extra mile for them, they'll probably want to go that extra mile for you. Nice packaging with a great service/product definitely enforces that feeling. You'd be surprised how far a beautifully branded bag or customized thank you can go. On the flip side, if it looks like someone halfheartedly wrapped up my product in a plastic grocery bag and slapped some masking tape on there, I'm probably going to take that sloppiness and associate it with how they do business. Maybe it's a small detail, but that just might make me too embarrassed to refer them to my friends.

"What can I expect to pay?" You may not have to pay anything. Pinterest is full of DIY packaging ideas and sometimes you can get away with using as little as ribbon, scrapbook paper, and a home printer. I personally budget no more than 10% of my monthly business income for packaging/printing. I do about the same amount for online advertising. So I know that what I'm spending will be relative to what I'm making. If I can't afford to print something or advertise somewhere, I try to find a creative alternative or print the following month so I can save up more. Don't get in a panic and believe that you have to have everything perfect all at once.

"Where do I print?" If you do want a more professional look, there are plenty of online printers that do a really great job. You can check the bottom of this post for some good resources. Most designers will have a favorite printer to recommend so be sure to get their opinion as well.

"How do I keep it branded?" Start with colors, patterns and your logo. If you can repeat these elements in your packaging, you'll appear more put together. Make sure to always use a similar mood to your online presence. That way if someone sees a business card or dvd label of yours, they'll know they're in the right place if they visited your website. Also keep in mind your target client. What would make them excited?

"Won't my packaging just get thrown away?" Yeah, sometimes. That's why it's good to be purposeful about what you're purchasing and why. You don't have to print mailers just because you see other people doing it. You also might want to steer clear of purchasing printed items just because they'll get used. For example, a pen is handy, but very rarely does it make me want to purchase from the company whose name is on it. Focus on items that add to the experience and may get passed along. And it's okay if your packaging get thrown away if it makes your client feel special for that moment in time.

Online Printing Resources Photography Specific Printers: www.mpixpro.com, www.millerslab.com, www.whcc.com, www.prodigitialphoto.com General Marketing Items: www.moo.com, www.vistaprint.com, www.uprinting.com, www.overnightprints.com

Homework: Take a look at your goals, budget and needs and ask yourself if it makes sense to get some nicely printed materials. Ask your friends or a designer for some tips on adding to the overall brand experience. Dream big:)